Discipline of Propriety {Book Club Thursdays}


We’re jumping into Barbara Hughes’, Disciplines of a Godly Woman (affil. link).
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I hope you’re ready for the ride, because it’s going to be filled with encouragement, insight, and God-inspired wisdom.

Chapter 8: Discipline of Propriety, Submission’s Behavior

This chapter is a special one. I suppose it’s because it gets to the root of our heart issue and the why behind our behavior, talk, actions, and even dress. It’s a difficult one, too, to discuss. Perhaps it’s because as someone who’s been on all sides of the spectrum when it comes to propriety and modesty, I know that we each have a process to go through. God works out these truths in our hearts and we begin to have lasting, real, and true change. That’s very different than the changes that some make on the outside which contradict that which is on the inside. If we’re not careful, we can live like the teachers and Pharisees which Jesus rebuked, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”

And so, I tread through this chapter with great care lest you leave here bound by law and not by grace, which frees us to daily live holy lives before God. Mostly, I will share with you Scriptures and quotes from this chapter. My desire is that you would not run away from topics such as propriety and modesty. But rather that you’d walk right up to the Scriptures, your mirror, and that you’d allow God to show you specifically, uniquely, where you need discipline in this area.

In this “me, me, me” and “selfie” world, I think this is a discipline that we’ll have to continuously cultivate until we come face-to-face with Jesus. Less of us. More of Him.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,” (Philippians 1:27).

“Propriety–it’s an old-fashioned word. It means “characterized by appropriateness of suitability.” The discipline of propriety is simply behaving in ways appropriate for Christians–actions that don’t bring shame to the Gospel and to Christ. Propriety elevates our words, our appearance, and our attitudes. But propriety doesn’t begin with these outwardly measurable signs. Propriety is a matter of the heart.”


The Heart of the Matter

Though many look at the outward appearance first, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). This is a challenge for us. We manage our outward attitudes and appearance and call it a day. We measure up others in the same superficial way. And yet, God reminds us that He looks deeper into the heart of the matter. He looks at the heart for He’s interested in the soul.

“Author Bob DeMoss writes, “Your heart is the core of your being. It’s the essence of who you are. It’s where your mind and will, your emotions and conditions come together to shape what you believe and the choices you make.” He’s saying that our behavior is determined by what is in our heart. Scripture backs up this idea: “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man,” (Proverbs 27:19).

“Apart from the Gospel, the best we could do to master what is in our hearts would be to refine our civilities and manners. But patting ourselves on the back because we’re “not that bad” is false comfort because the most cultivated sensibilities can never get to the core of the problem in our deceitful, incurable hearts. Only the Gospel can get to the heart of the matter.”

“Once we’ve confessed and believed in our hearts, the Word of God helps us address our deep need for an ongoing conversion of heart: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12).

“When the Word of God begins its gracious surgery on our hearts, it is painful. It demands submitting to God’s will in areas that we either deny exist or that we’d prefer to think are none of His business.”


The Propriety of Our Appearance

Celebrate the Difference: One of the beautiful aspects of true womanhood is our femininity. Deuteronomy  22:5 tells us, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detest anyone who does this.” Some argue this would mean women cannot wear pants. However, considering that pants weren’t used during the writing of Deuteronomy, that cannot be concluded. (Though I must add that I do love the femininity, beauty, and comfort of dresses which I enjoy wearing often.) Rather, I believe it’s a standard given by God to differentiate between the femininity of women and masculinity of men. I won’t break this down any further. There have been others who’ve done a much better job at this I can in a few minutes. Suffice it to say that propriety in our appearances helps us to celebrate the differences between men and women.

Dress with Modesty: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God,” 1 Timothy 2:9-10. What I love about this verse it that it emphasizes the importance of the inner beauty versus the outer beauty. It reminds us that there’s a beauty far greater than any that comes with our hair and make-up, or the latest trends. There’s a beauty that’s timeless. One that increases more and more as we grow and mature in the Lord. Our good deeds declare for us, without words, much more than what we want to say with our outer appearance. Modesty challenges me to look at the ‘why’ behind the clothes I put on. Am I seeking attention? Am I looking for approval or acceptance? Am I desiring to be noticed? If so, then my heart motives are wrong. Decency and modesty are many times an internal heart issue that reflects on the outside.

Dress with Strength and Dignity: This is not to say that modesty and propriety in dress means frumpiness and sloppiness. God’s word talks about the Proverbs 31 woman who is “clothed with strength and dignity”. Barbara writes, “We women are God’s image-bearers; that’s where our dignity comes from. First God made us in His image; then He bought us. Christ’s purchase made us children of God, joint-heirs with Him–a position of highest rank. The woman clothed with “strength and dignity” will  behave in a manner worthy of her honored position. She knows who she is, and she carries herself with that assurance–not to impress or intimidate anyone but to honor her Creator and Redeemer.”


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The Discipline of the Propriety chapter goes on to talk about the propriety of our words (gossip, flattery, criticism, diminishment) and the propriety of our attitude, heart-healing, and renewing our mind. I have little space here to even try to open up each of those categories. If you haven’t already done so, do grab yourself a copy of Barbara’s book so that you can soak in God’s word and learn more fully what the discipline of propriety looks like practically. Then meet me here next week when we’ll talk about the Discipline of Perseverance.

{Thoughts to Ponder}

Q1: What does Modesty look like to you?

Q2: Are there areas in your life where propriety is necessary? Are you challenge by the thoughts and Scripture Barbara shared?

**Some discussion questions taken from Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. All quotes by Barbara Hughes unless otherwise noted. 

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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest

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